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Utah Supreme Court opens court session to all in appearance at USU

The Rotunda of the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City
The rotunda of the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City, the usual residence of the Utah Supreme Court. The five justices will hear oral arguments in a provisional courtroom at USU on March 19.

For more information and to download the briefs, visit chass.usu.edu/court


The Utah Supreme Court is traveling north Monday, March 19, to conduct its usual business in what will be the justices’ first Logan-based court session in known history.

The five justices will hear oral arguments in two cases in a provisional courtroom on the stage at the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall. The first case begins at 10:30 a.m., with the second at 11:20 a.m. A question-and-answer session with the justices will follow. The event is free and open to all students and community members.

“We are excited for students and faculty at Utah State University to experience first-hand a Supreme Court session,” Chief Justice Matthew Durrant said in a statement. 

Anthony Peacock, department head of Political Science, said he’s pleased and proud to welcome the Supreme Court justices to campus. 

“What’s particularly valuable about the justices’ willingness to sit and hear appeals at USU is that it will give students and others the opportunity to see two real lawsuits being argued,” he said.

On Monday’s court docket are appeals of two cases that have attracted media coverage. 
State v. Huizen (case no. 20170304-SC) involves a 16-year-old boy who was ordered to stand trial as an adult for an armed robbery in Weber County. The Utah Court of Appeals overturned the earlier decision, noting that the juvenile court judge should have recused herself because her husband was part of the prosecution team.

The second case, Teamsters Local 222 v. Utah Transit Authority (case no. 20170208-SC), will look at whether rail operations supervisors are “employees” for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Peacock noted that while the courtroom itself may be makeshift, the proceedings themselves are authentic.

“This is not a mock trial. These are real litigants, with real interests, and real lawyers arguing on their behalf,” he said. “This should be a thoroughly educational experience for those who are unfamiliar with just how the actual world of litigation works.” 

Chief Justice Durrant recognized the Law and Constitutional Studies program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “We are grateful to USU for helping students gain a better understanding of our laws and Constitution,” he said. The program, which was developed by Peacock, is in its 16th year.

Peacock echoed the sentiment of appreciation. “Kudos to the justices for their willingness to do this for our students and everyone else here,” he said.

The Supreme Court’s newest justice is Paige Petersen, who was sworn in last December. She’s a graduate of the former College of Eastern Utah, now USU-Eastern, and the daughter of Michael Petersen, a lecturer in Political Science at USU-Tooele.

In addition to Durrant and Petersen, the five-member bench includes Thomas R. Lee, Deno Himonas and John Pearce. Justice Pearce has recused himself from State v. Van Huizen. His place on the bench will be filled by First District Court Judge Brian Cannell.

For more information and to download the briefs, visit chass.usu.edu/court

Related links:
College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences 

Writer and contact: Janelle Hyatt, Janelle.hyatt@usu.edu, 435-797-0289


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